Here, Gail Watts – mother of a son on the Autism spectrum and primary school teacher – shares a couple of her favourite illustrations from her new book, Kevin Thinks…about Outer Space, Confusing Expressions and the Perfectly Logical World of Asperger Syndrome.
The character ‘Kevin’ is based on my son Reilly, when he was a small boy. Kevin Thinks was never really intended to be seen by anyone. It stayed in my cupboard for a little over a year, almost forgotten, until I dragged it out to show some friends during drinks on my birthday. We were laughing about funny things our children did and said when they were little. There was no turning back once my friends had seen this book. They were most insistent that I send it to someone. I’m so glad now that I did.
I have two favourite pages. They are my favourites for very different reasons.
The first one is where ‘Aunty Blue’ is entertaining the family. Reilly really does have an Aunty Blue, who is my sister. My family is full of ‘clowns’ – not real clowns, just people who are happy to dress up and entertain the children. Reilly has never really understood why anyone would want to be laughed at.
Over the years he has developed a certain amount of tolerance to our embarrassing, immature behaviour and he has learned to occupy himself with more sensible pursuits. I love this page because I have also managed to sneak in a few personal tributes. There is my sister, Blue, who has always been my best friend, engaged in behaviour that is typical of my family. The little girl in the front is my beautiful little next door neighbour Mia, who is in my kitchen every other day. Lastly, there is my youngest son, Cody, sitting next to Mia wearing his ‘Saints’ T-shirt: which is my little way of saying hello to the mighty Saints Basketball Club, for which three generations of my family has played.
My other favourite page is where Kevin is upset and is hiding under his ‘space’ sheet, with his worried mother peeking through the bedroom door. I think this page is special because of how people react to it.
When I watch people read this book, I see them smiling and nodding as they take in each page. When they get to this page, some sort of reality sets in, and you see their expressions change. Some of my friends have even cried, as they realise how difficult life can be for children like Kevin.
It is so important that the people around an Asperger’s child have a positive and supportive attitude. I hope that parents will see their own stories within mine and simply enjoy the familiarity.
Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.